BROOKINGS-Three former area football players-in different time periods of their careers-were forced to watch on the side as South Dakota State University conducted its annual spring game on Saturday at Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex.
Parkston native Wes Genant, Winner's Krockett Krolikowski and Kimball's Turner Blasius all missed the spring game due to injury, but all three took the experience in stride.
"I'm trying to find work where I can," Genant said. "I'm trying to teach the young guys, trying to help them as best I can from the position I can. I'm not just sitting out, I'm doing workouts and trying to get better, too. I'm just trying to help the young guys the best I can."
Genant was originally slated to redshirt during his freshman season, but he was sent into action three games into the 2016 season and has been a mainstay along the offensive line ever since. Injuries began to mount up toward the end of last season, however, as he missed three games. With two dislocated shoulders requiring surgery that won't clear him until October and a redshirt year available, the decision was made for Genant to sit out the upcoming season.
"The trainers are doing a wonderful job here," Genant said. "They're helping me along the way, making sure I'm 100 percent before I go back in and not try and rush through it."
While Genant is preparing to miss all of next season, Krolikowski is coming off a season-ending ACL injury that forced him to miss the final two playoff games last year.
The defensive tackle was in the middle of a breakout redshirt freshman season that saw him record four sacks and earn freshman All-American honors, before it was ripped away. Krolikowski, who had never suffered a severe football-related injury, is projected to be ready for the start of the 2019 season and he believes he has picked up a few tips during his time as an observer.
"It's been a new experience. It's actually opened up my eyes to other things you don't see when you're on the field," Krolikowski said. "You get to sit back and pick up tendencies from the offense and the defense. You look at things by how you can improve and become more of a vocal guy."
Meanwhile, Blasius is set to begin his redshirt senior season with his eyes set on gaining meaningful snaps on special teams for the first time in his career.
Yet it was a non-football injury that forced him to sit out, as he suffered a broken wrist during a power clean rep during the winter. Blasius was not concerned that an opportunity passed him by, particularly with most special teams units being sorted out during fall camp.
"We've done all four special teams in the past, but this year we mostly focused on punt," Blasius said. "I hope to get on punt shield, but from that aspect I didn't miss out too much, except a few scheme things. I've been here long enough that hopefully I'll be able to pick that right back up."
Fall camp is scheduled to begin in late July.